SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Matthew Tkachuk delivered for Florida, again. Sergei Bobrovsky denied Carolina, again.
The wait is over: After 27 years, the Florida Panthers — a hockey punchline no more — are again going to play for the game’s grandest prize.
Tkachuk got his second goal of the game with 4.9 seconds left, lifting the Panthers past the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 and into the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1996 after sweeping the Eastern Conference final.
The Panthers will play either Vegas or Dallas for the Stanley Cup starting sometime next week; Vegas currently leads the Western Conference title series 3-0.
“This was pure joy,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said.
Bobrovsky stopped 36 shots to cap his stellar series — four games, four one-goal wins, three of them basically in sudden death, a .966 save percentage after stopping 174 of the 180 shots he faced. The first two wins were in overtime, and this one may as well have been.
The Panthers scored 10 goals in the series, and Bobrovsky ensured those were all they needed. They were the No. 8 seed, the last team in, the longest of long shots — which is consistent with their history, after not winning a single playoff series in 26 years, a drought that ended last season.
And now, beasts of the East. Tkachuk arrived last summer saying he wanted to bring Florida a Cup. He’s four wins away.
“It’s amazing,” Bobrovsky said. “We showed the resilience … and we’re lucky to have Chucky on our side. He knows how to score big goals.”
NHL Senior Vice President Brian Jennings was the one tasked with presenting the Prince of Wales Trophy. After some photos, Aleksander Barkov — the captain who had two assists, one of them on the game-winner — grabbed it, and skated it away. Some teams touch it. Some don’t. A few of the Panthers did, but Barkov didn’t pass it around.
That’ll wait for the big prize.
“It’s hard to explain right now. Everything just happened so quick,” Barkov said. “It means a lot. It definitely does. … It hasn’t been easy and nobody said it’s going to be easy.”
Added Tkachuk: “We earned that thing, and definitely didn’t do it the easy way. We earned it.”
Ryan Lomberg and Anthony Duclair had the other goals for Florida, which swept a series for the first time in franchise history.
Jordan Staal — his brothers Eric and Marc play for the Panthers — took a tripping penalty with 57 seconds left in regulation, setting up the power-play that Tkachuk finished off after getting into the slot and beating Frederik Andersen to set off a wild celebration.
“Eastern Conference champions,” Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad said. “It’s really cool. No doubt about it. But you know, at the end of the day, we have our eyes on something different.”
Toy rats — the Panthers’ tradition, a nod to the unwanted locker room guests from Florida’s old arena in 1996 — sailed down from the stands, and the goal needed to survive an official review. But the rats were picked up, the goal was deemed good, and 27 years of waiting was officially over 4.9 seconds later.
Jesper Fast seemed like he might have saved the season for Carolina, getting a tying goal with 3:22 left in regulation. Paul Stastny and Teuvo Teravainen had the first two goals of the night for the Hurricanes, while Brady Skjei and Jordan Martinook each had two assists. Andersen stopped 21 shots.
“Everyone’s going to say, ‘You got swept.’ That’s not what happened,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “I watched the game. I’m there. I’m cutting the games. We’re in the game. We didn’t lose four games. We got beat, but we were right there. This could have went the other way. It could have been four games the other way.”
That wasn’t sour grapes. He was right. A bounce here, a bounce there, a Bobrovsky not here, a Bobrovsky not there, and this series could have gone much differently.
But Bob was his best. Tkachuk was clutch, over and over. And Florida is as close to a Cup as it has ever been; the Panthers were swept by Colorado in the 1996 final.
Towels waved, strobe lights flashed, and the fans wasted no time letting the Panthers know that they were ready to a clincher.
Tkachuk made it 2-0 on the power play midway through the first. Carolina — a 113-point, division-championship-winning team in the regular season — made it 2-1 later in the first on Stastny’s goal, and Teravainen tied it early in the second.
Lomberg’s goal midway through the second gave Florida the lead again. It stayed that way until Fast got the equalizer with 3:22 left, and then Tkachuk finished it off — getting the Panthers to the title round in his first season.
“It’s been unbelievable since July since I got here,” Tkachuk said. “And hopefully we can cap off this amazing year.”
AROUND THE RINK
Panthers general manager Bill Zito was announced earlier Wednesday as a finalist for NHL GM of the year. … Tkachuk’s two goals gave him 21 points in the playoffs — extending his Florida single-season postseason record, which was 17 by Dave Lowry in 1996. … Slavin was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game after Bennett’s hit, with what the Hurricanes said was “an upper-body injury.” Slavin wobbled as he tried to get to his feet. … Miami Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel — who has also been a regular at Miami Heat games during their playoff run this spring — banged the drum before the game. When done, without a mic to drop, he simply dropped the mallet instead.
Tkachuk’s goal midway through the opening period put Florida up 2-0 — and marked the first time, in nearly 14 periods of play to that point, that a team had a two-goal lead in this series. Every bit of action came with the score tied or someone up by one in the first 272 minutes (including all the overtimes) of the series.
Legislative Black Caucus Chair Dianne Hart supports Miami’s protest against Florida’s Black history teaching standards
Tampa, Fla. – Today a group of protestors have engaged in a 2-mile march to the Miami-Dade School Board building to protest the recently approved African American history standards. A month ago, the Florida Board of Education approved standards that inaccurately teach that enslaved people benefitted from the horrible practice of slavery. The Florida Legislative Black Caucus has been adamant in their disapproval of these new standards.
Representative Dianne Hart (D- Tampa), Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, issued the following statement:
“I am delighted to see that the citizens and parents in Miami-Dade County are not sitting idly by while the State of Florida tries to indoctrinate our students with lies about historical truths. It is my hope that more parents will become involved in holding town halls, protests, and showing up to school board meetings, continuing to bring attention to these falsehoods that are being passed off as legitimate history. Let me be clear: there was no benefit to enslaved people from the torture that was chattel slavery, and the moment we teach our children otherwise, we open the next generation to the possibility of repeating it.
The Florida Legislative Black Caucus will continue to bring light to this issue and stand against falsehoods in our children’s education.”
Senate President Kathleen Passidomo to host Citizens Property Insurance Corporation Office Hours in Naples on August 15, 2023
Naples — Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) will host Office Hours for Citizens Property Insurance Corporation on August 15, 2023, from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. in her Naples Office located at 3299 East Tamiami Trail, Suite 203. Constituents may call (239) 417-6205 to schedule an appointment.
“Our Southwest Florida communities are strong and resilient, and we while we have seen a great deal of progress in the year following Hurricane Ian, there is still more work to do. I hope those with lingering questions or issues related to a Hurricane Ian claim with Citizens Insurance, or anyone with a question on a Citizens policy will take this opportunity to call and set up an appointment,” said President Passidomo.
“As we approach the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Ian, Citizens remains committed to assist our policyholders with Hurricane Ian claims and those who may have other questions or concerns related to their Citizens policy,” said Citizens President/CEO/Executive Director Tim Cerio.
State Senator Rosalind Osgood’s Response to the Banning of AP Psychology
TAMARAC, Fla. (FNN) – On Thursday, August 3rd, the Florida Department of Education announced banning AP Psychology from being taught in state schools because the educational material includes gender identity and sexual orientation lessons. This announcement comes two weeks after the Florida Board of Education unanimously approved updates to the State’s curriculum regarding the teachings of African-American History, which requires that students be taught slaves-developed skills for their personal benefit.
In response to the banning of AP Psychology in Florida, Florida Senator Rosalind Osgood (D-Tamarac) issued the following statement Thursday:
“Florida’s decision to ban AP Psychology, two weeks after the approved updates to the State’s African-American History curriculum, due to its inclusion of gender identity and sexual orientation lessons is no coincidence. The State of Florida is on a mission to erase everyone that doesn’t fit in the normal box of the term “inclusive.” Education should promote understanding, inclusivity, and respect for diverse perspectives. Denying students the opportunity to learn about important topics like gender identity and sexual orientation limits their understanding of the world. Ignoring important topics doesn’t make them go away, it hinders the ability to engage thoughtfully in a diverse society. By excluding these lessons, Florida lacks an opportunity to reduce prejudice and prepare students for a more loving future.”